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  • Visualizing Historical Home Prices in America Over Time

Visualizing Historical Home Prices in America Over Time

In a previous blog post we covered the rising cost of land in the US from 1975 to the present day. But since land value is only one component of total home value, we decided to follow up with a new blog post on the total value of U.S. homes (including both structure and land costs) over the past 30 years.

As before, we used data from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy to create the animated map below, which showcases the changes in average home values between 1985 and 2014 by metro area. For most metro areas, home prices seem to have peaked in 2005-2007 – right before the housing bubble popped.

home prices



A lot of metro areas, such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Seattle, have experienced fairly steady growth between 1985 and 2006. Others had their peak home prices around 1985 and have since experienced depressed prices, like Dallas, Fort Worth, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Rochester, and San Antonio.

For the most part, peak home prices occurred between 2005 and 2007, after which prices dropped without exception – but by varying degrees. Of all the metro areas studied, Houston is the only metro area for which average house prices have actually surpassed the peak in 2005-2007. Other metro areas, like Buffalo, Denver, Pittsburgh, and San Antonio, have regained most of the value lost since the housing bubble collapsed.


The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy estimated the average values of owner-occupied homes (including the value of the land and the physical structure) using a two-step process. First, the average values for 1980, 1990, and 2000 were estimated using micro data from the Decennial Census of Housing (DCH). Second, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHSA) quarterly repeat sales house price indexes were used to scale the home values by quarter between 1980 and 2000, and to extend home values forward to the end of 2014. All home values in the figure above are expressed in inflation-adjusted 2014 dollars.


Average U.S. home prices have increased from a low of $240,000 in 1985 to $327,000 in 2014. Home prices have yet to recover from their 2006 peak of $433,000, though they have been on the rise since a recent low of $280,000 in 2012.

Do you think average home prices will ever reach their pre-crisis peak? Drop us a line with your input.

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Source: Table 1

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